Words by Alex Napoliello
Nigel Godrich, sometimes referred to as the sixth member of Radiohead, stepped out from behind the glass to lead the charge on his newest project, Ultraísta. Joining Godrich on their debut self-titled album is journeyman drummer Joey Waronker and vocalist Laura Bettinson. The album, released on October 2, is a short record but is jam packed with layer upon layer of heavy, electronic dance beats.
Bettinson’s vocals serve as a melodic complement to what is otherwise a rather dark album. It’s hard not to notice the Radiohead influence in the backdrop of this record, specifically from their latest record The King of Limbs, but Ultraísta’s debut takes on an entirely different persona than any of Godrichh’s work with Radiohead.
In many of the tracks, specifically ‘Static Light’ and ‘Gold Daze’ the synthesizer does most of the talking, while Bettinson’s vocals take a back seat. ‘Party Line’, ironically the least exciting track on the record, is a breath of fresh air, featuring a more classical style piano melody.
In an era in which dub step dominates pop music, Ultraísta can be lumped into that category by any naïve listener. However, this record models more after the Krautrock (minus the rock) era with its stop-and-go, mechanical-like melodies. There’s a lot going on in this record, yet it’s a sound that is minimalist, and stripped down to the bone; it’s raw and bitter. But when you least expect it, Bettinson’s vocals shine through like the sun on a cloudy day.
© October 2nd, 2012
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